Peter Fitzpatrick·26 May 2023
Peter Fitzpatrick·26 May 2023
So here we are. After a mid-season World Cup and more sackings than anyone cares to remember, the 2022/23 Premier League season is finally at its last stop.
Here are our predictions for it all.
With the title and top four already decided rather annoyingly, it’s all about Survival Sunday and there’s only one place to start: Goodison Park.
Simply put, if Everton do their job and win, nothing that happens elsewhere will matter. The Toffees will be safe and Leeds and Leicester will be sent packing for the Championship.
By the good fortune of everyone else being so poor, Everton sit two points outside the relegation zone despite just one win in their last 10 games.
Draws have been their favoured currency in this time, with their fifth and latest coming courtesy of Yerry Mina’s last-gasp equaliser at Wolves last weekend. However, a stalemate might not suffice here and although an early goal could set them on their way, the longer it goes, the more antsy it will all become.
They could hardly pick better opponents for the occasion with Bournemouth having nothing to play for and arriving on Merseyside off the back of three consecutive losses after guaranteeing their own safety. Three wins have come on their last four away days but no one could fault Gary O’Neil’s men for mentally being on the beach given their heroics this season.
It won’t be pretty but it’s hard to back against Sean Dyche completing the task from this position.
📊 Fun fact: After winning just two of their first eight games against the Toffees in the Premier League, Bournemouth have now beaten the Merseysiders three times in a row.
🔮 Our prediction: Everton 2-1 Bournemouth
While an Everton win means Leeds will go down regardless of what happens at Elland Road, they can’t think of what’s going on elsewhere.
Nothing but a win will do in Sam Allardyce’s latest and possibly greatest attempt at the proverbial Great Escape. Parachuting him in for the final four games was the definition of one last shot and it’s led to just a single point from three games to date, albeit Manchester City away (2-1 loss) and Newcastle at home (2-2 draw) were always going to be extremely difficult.
The 3-1 loss at West Ham last Sunday, in which Leeds took the lead, was the hammer blow and felt like a nail in the Whites’ Premier League coffin.
They’ll have to dust themselves down and go to the well one last time and will have the backing of a vociferous Elland Road faithful when facing off with Tottenham Hotspur.
The reverse fixture saw Spurs come from behind three times to win 4-3 in an absolute thriller. With Leeds needing to win and Spurs having little at stake, it could be another end-to-end spectacle.
📊 Fun fact: Harry Kane has scored on the final day of each of the last five Premier League seasons and his overall record of nine goals is a post-1992 final day record.
🔮 Our prediction: Leeds United 3-2 Tottenham
As mentioned, there is very little at stake for many clubs on the final day but this game might be the biggest dead rubber of the lot.
Southampton were relegated weeks ago and have 20th spot sealed (what a depressing collection of words) while Liverpool can’t move from fifth, which represents a very disappointing season for all involved at Anfield.
Still, the Reds have been in sensational form of late with last Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with Aston Villa ending a run of seven wins on the spin and should really fancy their chances of ending their season on a high with a big win on the south coast.
A comfortable win would also allow them to move into the positive goal difference in the away table, which tells you everything about the drop off from Jürgen Klopp’s side this campaign. It would also mean four away wins in a row and provide a semblance of momentum ahead of a very important summer.
What do Saints have to offer in the way of resistance? Very little if we’re being honest. Rubén Sellés has accrued just three points from his last 12 games in charge – it was not via a win, although two of those points did come at Old Trafford and the Emirates.
📊 Fun fact: The team finishing bottom of the table has won their final game in just one of the last 20 Premier League seasons, with Sheffield United beating Burnley 1-0 in 2020-21 being that sole exception.
🔮 Our prediction: Southampton 1-4 Liverpool
If you haven’t noticed by now, the theme of this piece and this weekend is the relegation battle and we simply couldn’t leave Leicester out of proceedings, although few would have predicted they would be involved last August.
In fact, these clubs both finished in the top half last season, with Leicester’s eighth-place finish behind West Ham being considered a disappointment following back-to-back fifth-place finishes and an FA Cup success in 2021. How things have crashed and burned since then.
The Foxes started the season terribly and, even with a mid-season run of form that included a 2-0 win at the London Stadium in the final game before the World Cup, could never get themselves far enough away from danger. A team featuring James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Youri Tielemans amongst others should not be staring down the barrel of likely relegation. Expect all three to depart if and when relegation comes.
A similar chat was being had about West Ham not too long ago as the Irons toiled toward the bottom of the table despite spending over £150m last summer off the back of two consecutive cracking seasons. Unlike most of the sides in the bottom half who have chopped and changed, West Ham resisted the urge to sack David Moyes and have been promptly rewarded with a Conference League final berth, as well as Premier League safety.
While one eye might be on that final, it isn’t for 10 days, and the likes of Declan Rice (likely to be his last game for the club, bit of a theme there too), Jarrod Bowen and Saïd Benrahma should feature to stay fit and firing for Fiorentina in Prague on June 7.
This should spell bad news for Leicester, who look set for the drop just seven years on from their greatest day.
📊 Fun fact: James Maddison is one assist away from joining Riyad Mahrez (2015/16 and 2017/18) as the only Leicester player to hit double figures in goals and assists in the Premier League era.
🔮 Our prediction: Leicester 2-2 West Ham
An unsurprising pick considering the prediction of a big Liverpool win at St Mary’s.
On top of the Egyptian’s red-hot form, which has seen him register seven goals and four assists in his last nine league outings, both Manchester City and United are likely to rest their main marksmen ahead of next Saturday’s FA Cup final.
There are also two carrots in front of Salah: the first being the opportunity to hit 20 league goals for the fifth time in his six seasons at Anfield.
The second motivation is another landmark, with one goal needed to push past Steven Gerrard in the all-time Liverpool goalscoring charts. The two are currently locked on 186, with a single strike separating Salah from standing alone in fifth spot.
While Liverpool may have little to play for, Salah certainly has enough reasons to finish the season in style.